Saturday, August 29, 2015


After a couple of weeks in which the Mets basically laid waste to everyone that deigned to get in their way, the Mets came home and sort of muddled their way through Friday night's game against the Boston Red Sox. This was, of course, another one of those randomly placed Interleague series, and one that had a bit of panache to it, since it was in fact the first time the Red Sox had played a regular season series at Citi Field, and also the first time the Mets and Red Sox had met in Queens altogether since 2001. Though the Red Sox are in last place and boast a record to rival the teams that the Mets had basically steamrolled over the weekend, they came into Citi Field looking somewhere awkwardly in between a team playing out the string and a team looking to get in the way of a contender. They did both rather well. In spite of running through 8 pitchers and handing the Mets 12 walks, they bunched several hits together in key moments and managed to burn the Mets 6-4 in a 10-inning sweat-fest.

This game did have all the makings of a Mets romp, particularly early. I was on hand with my better half for this Free Shirt Friday (and those loyal readers who know my wife's disdain for Free Shirt Friday will no doubt be pleased to know that she deemed this shirt unwearable and asked if I would be selling it on eBay approximately 30 seconds after receiving it), as were a whole host of Red Sox fans who unfortunately turned out to be as annoying as I feared they would be in spite of our particular solidarity. Though I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for the Red Sox for what they did 11 years ago, their run of World Series Championships has turned their fans from a more New England Literary BS version of Mets fans into a bunch of chest-puffers. They've become so popular and their fans seem to travel so well that it seems unsurprising that this weekend is very close to being sold out if it's not already. Easily the largest crowd in a game I'd attended this season since Opening Day was on hand as a well-rested Matt Harvey was on the mound. The skipped start heard round the world turned out to be a non-issue as Harvey cruised his way through 6 innings and although he was less than economical, he was still effective. The offense got him two runs off of Henry Owens, who should not be confused with the Henry Owens of lesser acclaim that surfaced with the Mets in another era. It could have been more. It probably should have been more.

By the time the 7th inning rolled around, we all wished it were more, because Logan Verrett, after looking so good against the Phillies on Thursday, came in the game and was immediately greeted by David Ortiz hitting a laser beam of a Home Run into the seats in Left Center. Verrett then got the next two batters and it seemed like an isolated instance, but then he gave up a single to Blake Swihart and was a pitch away from getting the 8 hitter, Jackie Bradley, Jr, but then Bradley hit a ball rather similar to Ortiz that found its way to the seats as well, and just like that, the lead was gone, Harvey's win was gone, and Red Sox fans were whooping it up. 

The Mets, however, battled back in the last of the 7th, thanks mostly to Alexi Ogando and his general inability to find the plate. Ogando's outing was basically the baseball version of a triple-decker sandwich, as he walked a guy, got a guy out, gave up a hit, walked a guy, got a guy out and then walked Travis d'Arnaud to force in a run and tie the game back up. Ogando was then removed for fat-faced former Giant Jean Machi, and of course Machi stopped the Mets cold, and then Tommy Layne worked out of trouble in the 9th, and it was off to Extra Innings, which was about the last thing the Mets needed after what happened on Thursday night.

By this point, the Mets had gone through single innings from Verrett, who wasn't good, and then Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, who were good, and now Terry Collins tried to squeeze a little more magic out of Carlos Torres, but this didn't work. Swihart led off the 10th with a screamer that at first looked like it might be run down by Juan Lagares, except that it kept sailing and it appeared to me to be a Home Run outright, but it caromed off the wall and about halfway back to the infield. Nobody made a signal, and so Swihart just kept on running while Lagares and Tejada then had to chase down the ball, and by time anyone was able to make a play on it, Swihart had basically circled the bases for the Inside-The-Park Home Run that probably wasn't an Inside-The-Park Home Run. But it was and that's how it stands. Torres then proceeded to allow two more runs on top of that, turning a bad situation into a completely untenable one, as not only were the Mets down 6-3 in the 10th inning, but Red Sox fans were now dancing in the aisles and weeping over their good fortune. 

It probably would have been easier if the Mets had just gone down in order against Junichi Tazawa, who has mysteriously become the Red Sox closer for reasons I forget, and after Tazawa gave up a hit to Flores and a Double Play to d'Arnaud, it seemed like we'd get out of here quick. But instead, Tazawa decided to prolong things and walk 4 guys in a row, which served no greater purpose than to fill us all with false hope while Red Sox fans buried their heads in their hands. Still, with the bases loaded and now a run home, all it would take was Yoenis Cespedes to just knock a single and the game would be tied, and a long hit could potentially win the game. Boston, having had enough of Tazawa's Follies, opted to bring in another pitcher, except that the only pitcher they had left was Left handed Yale graduate Craig Breslow, hardly the matchup they wanted but of course the only matchup they could make. Certainly things looked hopeful at this point but Cespedes just missed a pitch and ended up flying out.

This was a rather meek and anticlimactic ending to this game, which seemed to drag on forever and wound up an excessively sweaty 3 hours and 59 minutes, which should tell you that the Red Sox were the once who dictated the pace of the game, and should also tell you that they really can't pitch very well. The Mets had 20 men on base in the game and could only muster 4 runs, which means their situational hitting decided it was June again and didn't do anything helpful. Say what you will about Collins' use of the bullpen but the fact is the bullpen probably shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place. When a team hands you 12 walks, you probably should score more than 4 runs. But then again, after a 9-game, 12-day road trip that finished with a 13-inning slog, maybe the Mets needed a nap more than anything else.

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